We never tired of saying that we are a nation of immigrants, and we know that immigration determines what kind of nation we will be in the future.

We also like to say that we are a nation of laws. Taken together, these two attributes of the American character explain why an internal memo of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) outlining a plan to, in everything but name, legalize illegal immigrants by circumventing the laws passed by Congress is so distressing.

 Senator Chuck Grassley obtained a copy of the memo and made it public. The memo would grant some illegals resident status and would simply refuse to send others back to their countries of origin-this sounds like an extreme version of the non-enforcement policy that has led to the crisis in Arizona, where the state enacted a law that it claims is a response to federal failure to enforce immigration policy:  

 The American Spectator comments:

Even if the memo merely shows mid-level bureaucrats engaging in a brainstorming session about how to undermine the immigration laws they are being paid to uphold, it captures the essence of this administration’s approach to immigration enforcement. Criminal prosecutions of employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants are down and worksite raids have virtually stopped. The DHS official running the Office of Detention and Removal Operations has admitted the administration is, as a matter of policy, trying to avoid arresting illegals.

The Examiner comments this morning:

The memo sheds light on why the Justice Department finds Arizona’s immigration law so odious. The law, popularly passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by the governor, is an effort to address the flow of illegal immigrants into the state by allowing Arizona police officers to detain illegal immigrants. But the police are not empowered to deport the illegals — instead, the detainees are referred to the federal government. This would create a record of the illegal immigrants the administration refuses to deport, making transparent the White House’s efforts to undermine current immigration law.

Immigration reform must be done in the astringent air of public debate. This is a backdoor policy, and as such extremely troubling, even if it is only a memo–or perhaps especially because it is an internal memo not intended for public scrutiny.